Sunday, May 20, 2012

Visions of Heaven

The Church celebrates the Ascension of Jesus this week, so there are bound to be plenty of sermons about heaven today. This subject was also the cover story for Time magazine's Easter weekend issue. The article reviewed multiple competing Christian interpretations, starting with the recent book Heaven Is for Real. The story told in this book is hard to believe, but its appeal is not hard to understand. As the book's website describes, it provides "comfort and assurance."

When it comes to the after-life, our desire to make the unknown known is completely natural. In many ways, it is the driving force behind religion. We need our visions of heaven. As the Time article says, "one's vision of paradise shapes how one lives." But no matter how tantalizing that vision is, it will never be more than a fool's errand.

"Of course you ask: 'Where will I go?' Does it matter? To you, I suppose it does, but the answer will not satisfy what you want. You want a place, a destination. This we cannot give, because it is like trying to assign a place to us. We are everywhere and nowhere, every moment. Do you think it will be any different for you?"